If you're coming from our article:How to Launch Your Freelancing Business in 10 Days, then you’re well on your way to building your freelancing empire.
You might currently have a few regular clients who are keeping you afloat, or perhaps you’ve yet to get a client sign on the dotted line, whether you have one or one hundred clients there’s always room to grow and build new bridges.
It’s at this point you’re probably wondering how you can kickstart your business into overdrive and target the clients you need to sustain this lifestyle.
Well, wonder no more! To make sure you start this New Year off with a bang, we’ve put together 9 sure-fire methods you can use to grow your freelancing business.
Without further ado, let’s get straight into it:
Define your strengths and weaknesses.
Whether you’re new to the biz or if you've been operating for a while, it's great to take some time out to analyze your successes and failures of the past year. Begin by reviewing your processes, evaluating your highs and lows, and make a tangible list of what's worked well for you so far, and what hasn't.
Remember: Great empires are built from data, data, data so your existing stats are gold for your expansion. Did you reach your goals? Did your website get the traffic you planned for? Did you manage to stick to your budgets and are you on track to reach the action points in your business plan?
One of the most fundamental ways to grow is to rid yourself of the things that hold you back. That can be anything from poor internal procedures to adverse relationships, so a detailed analysis at this stage is paramount to your impending growth.
Look for ways you can ensure that failures don't repeat themselves, and ways you can ensure that your successes do. If you're unable to be objective in your own business, it would be valuable to consult with a business analyst who will have the skills necessary to identify which areas need to change.
Review your rates.
At the beginning of any business, rates are commonly set out of inexperience and fear that your customers will be put off if you charge too much. Once you're established, a review of your rates will ensure that you're charging appropriately for the value you're giving to your clients.
Move away from charging an hourly rate for your time and instead, focus on what you're bringing to the customers' table. Once you have been operating for a while, you'll have much more confidence to know that if a customer doesn't appreciate your value, then your time is better spent on a client who does. Compare yourself to your local competitors, are your pricing structures and offerings similar, or is there something you can add to make your product or service much more appealing to the market? Constant review of the rates that you’re giving to potential clients, compared to what your competitors are doing, will make sure that you’re always earning the most money for every possible job.
Improve your skills.
There's no doubt that the longer you're providing a service, the better you get at it. Combine this on-the-job experience with professional development; and opportunities to study and learn from authorities in your industry who have already travelled down the road that you're on.
Run a current skills audit on you and any personnel that are freelancing under your metaphorical roof and evaluate all of the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals. Implement any recommendations made in reviews from your existing and past clients, and really take on board any advice given to you from those who have used your service. You can even try one-on-one mentoring to start.
The more your skills improve, the more reputable you'll become in your niche and the more your product will be in high demand which will give you the pick of your clients.
Increase your offering.
If you began your freelance company by only offering one or two services, to grow you must expand your repertoire. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to learn new skills, but it does mean that you need to work with the people around you. If you're a graphic designer collaborate with a copywriter to offer a complete package to your clients. If you're a web designer, increase your offering by working with an SEO Strategist.
There are a whole host of freelance professionals on Freelancer.com who have the skills and availability required to help your business grow.
Expand your marketing strategy.
However your marketing strategy began, it can always be expanded. Increase your presence on social media or consider a direct mail campaign. If you're not sure where to start, place an ad for a marketing professional who will be able to analyse your past results and make recommendations for future campaigns. Remember, you can always get even more and more creative to expand the reach of your product. Start thinking outside of the box.
Social media is vital to the growth of your freelance company and regardless of what stage of your freelancing career you’re at, you can always do more! There are always opportunities to generate new followers, explore new platforms and you even have the best chance to go viral so that your content reaches the other side of the world. A great Social Media Strategist can generate new sales leads, and can help you down the path to increased visibility for you and your product.
Active social media management is one of the most effective keys to unlock the door to a bigger market, and you can engage with an expert here.
Build strong relationships.
Secure relationships are crucial to the long-term success of your freelance business. Build robust, long-term relationships with your existing clients to ensure they always return to you when they have a need for your product, and even refer you to their colleagues. Talk to all your current and past customers regularly.
With the digital age giving us the whole world at our fingertips, it’s still important to ‘think locally’ and make sure that relationships with those businesses on your front doorstep are bulletproof. It is those people you can visit for a catch-up to allow them to get to know and respect you so that they can pass on your details to their clients.
You have to start small when building relationships but watch over time how they can contribute to your growth and success internationally.
You must also build strong relationships with your suppliers and those who are invested in your freelance business. Not only will this ensure that your procedures are efficient, but it also means that you will have a support network which will encourage your personal and professional growth.
When running a freelance business, you might think that networking isn't necessary. It is.
Networking, both on and offline, is one of the most crucial things you can do to ensure the growth of your business. It's vital that you get to know others in your niche who are either your competitor or your support so that you are in a position to take advantage of all available opportunities.
While it can be tempting to concentrate on online forums only (of which you're right, these are extremely valuable), it is essential for your sustainability and future growth that you leave the comfort of your office and showcase your business in relevant circles. Dress up your business with a great modern business card and sign-up for seminars and conferences in your niche.
Don’t have one?
There’s a simple solution: Hire a graphic designer to create one for you. This way, you will ensure that your business card always ends up on top of the pile.
Prepare to outsource.
If you've been flying solo for awhile, the thought of growing and handing over control of any area of your freelance company can be a bit daunting. We’ve been there. If you want to expand your company into a larger entity, with global clients, getting some extra hands on deck is essential.
There's no need to outsource everything all at once. Start small and engage with a Virtual Assistant, or a bookkeeper who can take over some of the smaller but more time-consuming tasks. Once you're comfortable with this, then look at other work you can hand over. If you aren't prepared to share the responsibility of your freelance company, then it is impossible for you to grow. You are only one person with a limited number of hours in your day and if you attempt to do it all single-handedly, you will burn out and won't be able to reap any of the benefits that owning a thriving freelance company will bring.
Get on top of this now, and you will thank us later.
Focus on long-term projects.
When you're looking for work, offer your services on an ongoing basis. The short-term projects are ideal for keeping cash flow going, but it is the larger projects which will bring you the most experience in the area and will also offer room for growth in your skills and development.
Of course, you don’t just ‘get’ long-term projects. The length of a project is something that can be negotiated by proving your worth and showcasing your valuable skills. For every job that you’re awarded, think long-term and decide what you can offer the client to keep the relationship, and stream of work, constant.
How do you do this?
Well, there’s a couple of ways:
There’s the obvious way - you could just ASK them. There’s nothing wrong with asking your past and current clientele for more work, or to refer you onto their colleagues. If you did a good job, and cultivated a great relationship with them (and I’m assuming you did) they should be happy to help.
Create a killer website design to showcase your work, link to it in your email signature, on your thank-you cards, everywhere.
Send out cold call emails. One of the great ways a buddy of mine started in the web development industry was to whip up a quick wireframe of a homepage, and send it to the business free of charge. He’d then say: It’s yours if you want it. But If you’re looking to redo your entire website, I’m happy to stay on and develop everything.
Once your network of clients know that you're interested in working long-term, the jobs will roll in, which will allow you to allocate the smaller tasks to another freelancer.
Now it’s your turn! Have you used any of these tips to grow your freelancing business, or have you got anything to add that other readers might find useful? Leave a comment below to give everyone the benefit of your experience so we can all grow together!